The goofy new Defender you see above has good reason to smile. It took the new Defender less than a year to exceed sales figures set by its predecessor, which was last sold in the American market from the early-to-late ’90s.
Throughout the original’s entire four-year run (1993-97), Land Rover sold 6,913 of the old Defenders in the U.S. By contrast, in just the last six months of 2020 Land Rover managed to sell 9,115 of the new Defenders, despite an ongoing pandemic and amid supply shortages, Automotive News reports.
That’s a solid start for Land Rover’s polarising redesign of the beloved off-roader.
I was not fond of the new Defender when I first saw it, but the more I saw them rolling around town, and the more I got to actually see them in motion, the more the new ’ute grew on me. The taillights remind me of the “correct” way to draw a number eight — according to my grade-school design class teacher. I still write the number that silly way, which makes my eights look funny when I draw the two circles too far apart.
So, the new Defender has short-circuited the nostalgia centre of my brain in a convoluted way, which ends up making me appreciate it as a well-implemented throwback design.
And if the new Defender 110 is still not to your liking, remember that this year we will see the new Defender 90 on our roads. The new 90 is just as polarising for OG Defender defenders — ahem, enthusiasts — but I think the new Defender 90 is an excellent evolution of the old-school Rover 90. It looks dense and dynamic and athletic at once. Much more so than the 110.
That two-tone roof with panoramic side views looks great when shortened, and I think that between the two models, the 90 does the best impression of a purposeful vehicle. Also, the two-door Defender undercuts its larger sibling’s price by a little, with the 90 starting at $US46,100 ($59,925) and the 110 at $US50,500 ($65,645) in the U.S.
That lower price may translate to good sales for the 90 — and even better figures for the Defender model overall.